Monday, January 27, 2014


Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. - William Shakespeare

 We get the itch every few years. It is uncontrollable, really. Like the Seven Year Itch except closer to four or five. We quit our jobs, take the boys out of school, pack up the house and leave. For a new life, a new adventure. Discover and rediscover.

 We have gotten in the habit of moving every few years. Maybe it isn’t good for the pocketbook but it is certainly good for the soul. Maybe it isn’t the wisest thing for the kids but it certainly is an adventure, a learning experience.

 But we have been here, in this city, for a few more years than we usually are. Quite a few. It feels unnatural, abnormal, a bit horrifying, as if our life plans have gone awry. Just as the boys grow up and independent, we can’t quite make the decision to leave this town, this time. Now. Maybe we’ll decide in a few months’ time.

 I’ve been known to raise a few eyebrows in my time.

 My son used to beg me not to dress this way, wear that coat, make a scene when I come to his school. I was, just for the very fact that I was l’américaine, different and noticeable. I stuck out like a sore thumb. And I didn’t have to make it worse by actually making the choice to call attention to myself.

 Ah, my son. Yes, I admit I raised a few eyebrows. I didn’t do it on purpose (which he simply refused to believe), but how could I not? Crazy American lady who dressed the way I did, acted the way I did among the very restrained French, spoke my mind in an environment in which one did not.

 I think the French may have, at one time or another, considered that I was a few bricks short of a load, or wondered if I wasn’t a few cards shy of a full deck.

 Win a few, lose a few.

A few good men.

 Just a few ingredients is all one needs for a great meal. Warm, tender potatoes, cool frisée salad, shredded cooked beef. Or mussels, shallot, parsley and white wine. Delicate choux puffs, scoops of vanilla ice cream, warm chocolate sauce. Lamb, a few carrots, mushrooms and tomato sauce. Pasta, lardons and cream.

 A few spices to kick up a dish, more and it would be criminal. Cumin, coriander and turmeric. Adobo, paprika and pepper. Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

 A few extras tossed into the mixture to give a dish personality, flavor and culture. Prunes, almonds and honey. Shallots, onions and parsley. Chickpeas, garam masala and coriander. Garlic, celery and carrots. Raisins, hazelnuts and vanilla. Or chocolate chips, pecans and cinnamon. Ketchup, mustard, relish!

Every day we should hear at least one little song,
read one good poem,
see one exquisite picture, and, if possible,
speak a few sensible words.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 I have a persnickety one. Finicky doesn’t begin to describe him, my angel, my son. The repertoire of what he will eat is a short one at best, a few items only, the bare minimum to survive. Pizza, grilled fish or chicken breast, grilled cheese or tuna sandwiches, tacos. No sweet tooth, he deigns nibble on only the few baked goods I now make specifically for him, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, profiteroles. He was barely a few years old when he clamped his rosebud lips together and began to refuse anything other than a few chosen items.

 He apparently can live on only a few foods. Every few days I, his mother, runs screaming from the kitchen in desperation.

A Man of Few Words

 A few minutes, a few days, a few weeks, how long does it take? To fall in love.

 Éperdument, follement perdue… madly head-over-heels in love.

 A few minutes, I spotted him in the garden behind the big old house and something niggled deep in my brain, something ages old and familiar yet foreign and obscure. A few days of watching, listening and I knew it had to be him. A few weeks and we spoke, if ever so distantly, dancing slowly, gently around each other, unsure, doubting. A few months, the longest few months of my life, and we came together, somehow, inexplicable.

 A few sparing words, a few dance steps, a few glances and I was his. And he was mine.

 A few short months and we were married. Toujours.

A few ingredients can make a great dish. My natural inclination is to go for dishes without ingredient lists that are too long (maybe that is why I love Italian cooking so much) and this Fried Banana and Bread Dessert with Maple Syrup is a great example of how you can cook with just three ingredients (not counting the butter) and have a wonderful dessert in very little time!


a few bananas
a few slices of stale bread
a few spoonfuls of maple syrup
butter (I prefer salted)

   Cut away the crust of the bread and then cut it into cubes. Heat up some butter in a skillet and fry the bread cubes until golden. Take out of the skillet and let them drip off the excess butter on some kitchen towel paper.

   Slice the bananas and fry them gently in the remaining butter until golden.

   Plate the banana slices together with the bred and drizzle maple syrup over before serving.

  Share on Tumblr


  1. Wonderful! Jamie's words always make me dream, Ilva's pictures never fail to uplift my soul and the recipes you share are invariably droolworthy.



  2. I don't know how you two do this, I just want you to keep doing it!

  3. And Jamie, I may also be an American in America not France and both our sons felt the same about me.

  4. How can anyone go wrong with fried bananas?!

    And how right you are about "just a few ingredients". We recently couldn't bear the idea of braving the cold and the ice and my husband put together the most brilliant dinner from what he found in the vegetable bin in the fridge - Indian lentils, julienned cabbage stir-fried with garlic, nigella seeds, a little carrot and some shredded coconut, stir-fried Brussels sprouts and Rapini with ginger and garlic and steamed rice. Lots of steamed rice.

  5. This is indeed a food story blog. Superb quality stuff.Writings and pictures takes the audience to food fantasy place. I am so inspired. Please stop by my ehome sometime.

    Your comments would be really appreciated.
    Thanks for sharing.